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This Week in Missouri Politics Midweek Update: Parson’s stay at home order was an excercise in restraint in an impossible situation

  

This isn’t a time for radical illogical actions. Gov. Mike Parson — like most governors, mayors, and county leaders — is in nearly impossible situations. No matter what leaders in government do, critics can make logical cases against their decisions. 

Let me start with a few observations I’m seeing form visiting with people around the state: 

  1. The federal government has the largest role in supplying tests, masks, gloves, etc. As in any crisis, they are the only ones with enough money to make any real difference in a disaster. 
  2. The federal government is directing those supplies to places facing more dire situations than Missouri. There is very little Missouri leaders can do when the federal government commandeers supplies. 
  3. Missouri’s stay at home order is loose, and it’s very similar to other state’s orders. Illinois, for instance, is a very liberal state with an order that is a complete joke and only intended to emotionally satisfy those who want to be comforted by the government in an uncertain time. 
  4. The Missouri government isn’t going to, and couldn’t if they wanted to, imprison large parts of the state’s population just for leaving their homes. Google General Order Number 11 for those who need a historical reference of the last time the government tried this in Missouri.
  5. Gov. Parson isn’t your guy if you want a liberal who will issue unenforceable authoritarian mandates to soothe the feelings of snowflakes. He isn’t your guy if you want a deranged egomaniac to blow something up on Facebook to make you feel like he is as angry as you are and give you some vaguely defined group to blame for your problems. 

We are the most diverse state in the nation, and he has been the most dedicated and visible governor about meeting with everyone — urban and rural, Republican and Democrat. He didn’t start this when this disaster struck for pr; he has been doing it since the day he took office. 

He doesn’t just preach about local control now; he has been practicing it for years, back to when he was a county sheriff.  

That doesn’t mean he couldn’t do some things better. Personally, I feel like he could make a way — even if it’s not classifying grocery workers as temporarily essential workers — he could find a way to recognize their current vital work.

I also don’t think the press conference set up is working. It’s probably time to adjust that approach. He also needs to push back on the urban liberal media’s narratives they concoct. Intelligent people change their plans as situations change. Mike Parson is a very intelligent man. 

The loss of lives, the loss of jobs, the people who have taken ill. I actually believe he wrestles with these tragedies on a personal level and is making the best choices available in an impossible situation. 

The favorite son of Polk County was at his best Friday when he looked into the camera and expressed with crackling in his voice and moistened eyes his deep love for the people of this state. Even the most cynical Missourian had to know on some level that it was sincere. 

I’ll leave you with a 6th take. 

  1. Whether 80 percent of the state was in a strict stay at home order or 100 percent was in a loose order, at the end of this, Missouri will probably see relatively the same effects as the rest of the nation.

#moleg on COVID-19

The legislature came back to approve a huge package to address the current disaster. The House moved three weeks ago with an aim to keep the spending authority lower and restrict the governor’s ability to spend those funds.

What a difference three weeks makes. 

This week, they approved a $6 billion package that leaves a large leeway for Parson to spend it. 

The clear leader in the legislature on the COVID-19 bill, just as this time last year on the governor’s economic development package, was freshman Sen. Lincoln Hough. 

This bill was crafted as largely a Senate bill, and Hough did the key negotiations, keeping all sides together during a challenging hearing where the most honest answers to the most significant questions were: No one knows yet. 

Perhaps no freshman senator has ever had such a large impact on state government than Hough the past two years. 

Further, perhaps the greatest check the legislature has on how the Parson administration spends this massive amount of money is the risk of violating the trust of Senator Hough and losing him as an ally. 

It was a most bizarre scene in the House as members debated in a largely empty chamber while wearing masks. 

However, it was well run and orderly and showed the leadership, poise, and judgment that most knew Speaker Elijah Haahr was capable of. He has had perhaps his finest hour in this crisis and realized all of the potential his longtime backers knew was inside of him. The House will do well to follow his leadership closely as this crisis continues to unfold. 

Further, House Budget Chairman Cody Smith did a good job of showing humility and grace, explaining that three weeks ago no one could have anticipated the scope of the pandemic or the amount of federal aid that would be coming the state’s way. 

To be fair, yesterday was always going to be a good day for House Democrats. You have very few good days in the House minority, but they did call for a different and larger state response to the pandemic, and Rep. Crystal Quade was going to deservedly have a good day. 

However, Smith’s statesman-like response essentially diffused the issue — that was until House Floor Leader Rob Vescovo took to the microphone. Now to be fair, Vescovo is no Ronald Reagan and yesterday wasn’t even Ronald McDonald, but this speech and temperament were so tone-deaf, it couldn’t possibly have been rehearsed or even written beforehand. 

The essential point was a typical partisan House speech accusing Democrats of running ads and politicizing the COVID-19 issue. But while he was clumsily launching the attack, the House Republican political operation, which he exclusively runs on his own, was running attack ads at Quade literally as he was speaking those words. 

It would be hard to contemplate a more comical look on a more serious day. If he is controlled by those who pander to his paranoia by whispering into his ear the windmill of the day to fight, then House Democrats will be significantly empowered in the chamber next year by repeated failures like this — or they could lose the longtime Republican seat in Ballwin. 

Perhaps the speech was so poorly received because of the impressive performances on the floor by Smith, David Wood, Doug Richey — and most of all by — Dr. Jon Patterson. 

Speaking of leaders who have distinguished themselves during the current crisis: Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker and Columbia Mayor Brian Treece are two state leaders who should receive more recognition for their outstanding work over the last few weeks. 

Also, some, including myself, have at times criticized the role of a COO in state government, but having Drew Erdmann serving the State of Missouri the past six weeks has been invaluable. Missourians’ lives have been saved directly because of his work. 

Speaking of saving lives, the Nursing Home Association did some incredible work in the Capitol the past few days. Nursing home employees are some of the lowest-paid frontline employees, and if the state is going to make some investments, it had better be there because where would Missouri be in this crisis without them?

We will have no “This Week in Missouri Politics” this Easter weekend, but we will have a livestream lineup Tuesday through Friday next week that includes Mizzou President Mun Choi, Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, and St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin. The show will resume next week on all of our broadcast outlets with Governor Mike Parson.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS